“That’s for running, not cycling. There is a difference.”
Oh dear. The large, blokey manager of CycleSurgery in Shepherd’s Bush is staring at the tub of energy drink I’m holding. It’s a small bucket of Torq. Natural Orange flavour, since you ask. I give him a meek smile, which nevertheless conveys I am ill-equipped to engage in any science-based chat, and scurry to the counter.
Every so often I pop into a CycleSurgery store to buy Natural Orange flavour Torq, or indeed one of Torq’s many other delicious varieties, because most other bike shops don’t stock them. And technically, neither does CycleSurgery: Torq is kept in the Runners Need section, which operates as a separate business – hence the store manager’s friendly yet emphatic advice to this naive cyclist who has seemingly wandered into the wrong part of the shop. I could’ve got away with it if I’d only taken off my helmet and left my bicycle outside. And not worn a pair of shorts with “quickerbybike” written across the arse area.
It’s an unusual encounter, but not a surprising one, because I’ve found that CycleSurgery stores are odd environments anyway. The bijou Fulham Road branch, where a helpful lady sold me a nifty USB rechargeable front light called Moon Comet this week, has a steep-ish steel staircase (see above) which is difficult enough to negotiate when you’re clattering down it in your cleats, and presumably even more so if you’re taking your bike down to the basement workshop. At the Lower Thames Street shop, I have to pay for my Torq minibucket at the Runners Need till, then go to the main till if I’m buying other stuff, which is a bit like shopping at Foyles in the 1980s. But it’s the Shepherd’s Bush store which fascinates me the most, because it has a glass cabinet where, like a museum exhibit reminding us of a crueller and altogether unbelievable age, a pair of unsellable Lance Armstrong-branded Oakleys stares out at you. The Jawbone of a terrible dinosaur.
CycleSurgerys have been springing up everywhere lately. They have a whopping range of stuff, stocking everything from kids’ bikes to the type of helmets that adorn the bonces of Team Sky, and their website has a handy function which tells you which store has your desired item in stock. They should be identikit stores like any other chain, but each one I’ve used has its idiosyncratic touches, which I find endearing, despite the minor frustrations. Just don’t go in there to buy the ‘wrong’ type of powdered drink without doing your homework.
Maybe, for the benefit of all us CycleSurgery shoppers, I should write a blogpost examining which energy drinks are better suited to cycling. And call it Performance Enhancing Glugs.